The FINANCIAL — Microsoft Corp. on January 12 kicked off a weeklong round of high-level briefings, strategic announcements and technology demonstrations surrounding the British Education and Training Technology Show (BETT), showcasing the breadth of its efforts to empower people to realize their social and economic potential by enabling access to high-quality education experiences for everyone through technology.
“Education represents the catalyst for unlocking human potential in today’s knowledge economy,” said L. Michael Golden, corporate vice president for the Education Products Group at Microsoft. “We believe that with the right partnerships, processes and technologies in place, we can help educators and students develop and implement better ways to ensure they are prepared for the 21st century.”
Microsoft’s holistic approach to positively impacting the future of education looks beyond classroom technology applications and, through the facilitation of public-private partnerships and working hand in hand with governments and other business stakeholders, attempts to transform education for the benefit of students and communities worldwide. Throughout this week of events, Microsoft will announce numerous investments to inspire innovation across three strategic initiatives that represent a long-term commitment to enabling opportunities through learning.
Enabling Local Innovation
Under the Partners in Learning program, a number of events will discuss the success of the global Innovative Schools pilot program with various audiences and apply the learnings toward future endeavors. Under the current initiative, Microsoft has been working with educators on the ground across a diverse cross-section of 12 local schools in 12 countries to pilot cutting-edge applications of technology and pioneer instructional innovations enabled by information and communication technology.
• The Innovative Schools Briefing (Jan. 11) corralled leading global policy-makers, administrators and school principals, who will gather to discuss the latest findings from Microsoft’s Innovative Schools. They will identify replicable, cost-effective models of educational excellence that can be scaled up, providing a blueprint for the transformation of school systems worldwide.
• At the Innovative Schools European Workshop (Jan. 12), Microsoft will convene local and regional educational leaders from across Europe to hear how the Innovative Schools program is applying the learnings discussed at the overall briefing, and how they can be applied to the new opportunities opening up for schools around the world to participate in this groundbreaking initiative. More on this component will be announced later this week.
• The Innovative Schools Conference (Jan. 14–15) will gather officials from the 12 schools currently participating in the pilot program to swap notes, share best practices and map out their future vision for technology-enhanced learning.
• BETT (Jan. 14–17). Annually at BETT, the world’s largest educational technology event, participants showcase the latest ways to use technology for teaching and learning.
• Microsoft will also be giving visitors to BETT an exclusive sneak peek at Microsoft Surface. Surface is a leap forward in computing technology — forget the mouse and keyboard, this is the first interactive computing platform from Microsoft. Surface has the potential to make a transformational leap in the way teachers educate students because it provides a mix of physical and virtual worlds for a rich interactive experience. There will be demonstrations of how teachers can use Surface in a range of lessons across the curriculum, and this will mark the first appearance of the technology at a public event in the U.K.
• Here also, a number of Microsoft Innovative Schools from across the U.K. will be available at the stand to discuss their learnings and experiences of implementing new technology within their schools.
• Additional news will be shared on the opening day of the BETT show.
• Providing high-quality education is a worldwide concern. To further bring education into the 21st century, enabling countries to remain competitive and allowing underserved communities to develop, Microsoft executives will take their place alongside international education ministers, senior officials and policy advisors at the Learning and Technology World Forum (Jan. 12–14). The event is hosted by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, the U.K. government’s lead agency on supporting technology in education, on behalf of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
• Additional news will be announced during the week as it relates to the show.
Fostering Jobs and Opportunities
• At the Education Leaders Briefing (Jan. 14), Microsoft will host education ministers, senior officials and policy-makers for plenary presentations and panel discussions to extend the opportunity for joint dialogue and sharing about the challenges and success strategies needed to achieve real and lasting change in education through delivering 21st century learning for all students. In an event closed to press, this will be done by exploring national projects that are transforming education, supporting local innovation and creating new opportunities from the U.K., Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
• Additionally at BETT (Jan. 14-17), Microsoft U.K. will be announcing a world first in collaborative learning networks with a major new implementation of education services. It will also be launching its Digital Literacy Curriculum for under 16-year-olds, a new qualification accredited by the awarding body Oxford Cambridge and Royal Society of Arts Examinations (OCR) to help improve digital skills for children and to equip them for greater success in the workplace.